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Getting To Know the Roughnecks

Tulsa Roughnecks FC is one of the six new teams that will be joining USL PRO in 2015. In case you were wondering, the name Roughnecks refers to oil rig workers. This is of local significance because Tulsa is nicknamed The Original Oil Capital of the world.

I was very surprised to learn that Tulsa Roughnecks FC is not a new club at all. This is actual a revival of a team with a long rich, history. The original Roughnecks competed in the NASL from 1978-1984. This was the heyday of the NASL back when legends like Franz Beckenbauer were involved and just a season after Pele retired.

After the first game, the Roughnecks began pulling in crowds in the tens of thousands. Right after winning the soccer bowl (the championship of the NASL) in 1983, the team hit some serious financial problems. Fundraising by a local radio station kept the club going, but at the end of the lackluster ’84 season the Roughnecks ended.

Now, the Roughnecks are back! The club’s colors are orange and navy blue. All of the teams kits display the number 83, representing the year the original Roughnecks won the championship. One of the kits is even an exact replica of the original 1978 Tulsa Rough Necks FC uniform.

The Roughnecks will play at ONEOK field, which is shared with a minor league baseball team called the Tulsa Drillers. ONEOK field notably feature less seats and more standing sections than most other stadiums.

One of those standing sections, dubbed The Rig, will be filled by The Roustabouts . The Roustabouts are the official supporter group of the Roughnecks. Like the club, the name of the supporters group is also a reference to an oil rig worker.

I had the pleasure of asking head coach Mike Melega a few questions about the team. Here's what he had to say:

Why is a focus on standing sections so important to this club? We do not have a focus on standing sections. Our slogan for our first season is “Plan To Stand” and that has multiple meanings. First and foremost, the Tulsa Roughnecks FC will stand for Tulsa Soccer at all levels in our mission to advance the game in our city. We, as an organization, plan to stand for causes that are important to our community so in that sense it will be a community relations platform as well. Also, the game of soccer is an exciting game and we aim to provide a brand of soccer that makes our fans want to stand to cheer on their home team.

Is partnership with an MLS affiliate something the club is looking to pursue? Yes, we are. We are in discussions with USL PRO about this and are exploring options as they come up.

What should fans of other teams throughout the league know about the your club? Tulsa has a tremendous professional soccer legacy with the original Tulsa Roughnecks captivating the city in the late 70’s and early 80’s, winning a Soccer Bowl Championship in 1983. We are excited to embrace the rich soccer tradition started by the original Roughnecks organization and their players, many of which remain in Tulsa today while forging some new traditions at ONEOK Field as we look to put Tulsa soccer back on the map. We will play our games at ONEOK Field in downtown Tulsa. It is a state of the art, $39.2 Million venue that opened in April of 2010 and is home to Tulsa Drillers Minor League baseball games as well the host of the 2015 Big 12 Baseball Championships. We will transition our field from baseball to soccer in preparation for USL PRO home games by sodding over much of the infield similar to the way the New York Yankees will be doing during their first season of MLS action with NYCFC.

Is this club going to have a mascot? We are in the design phase as we explore our options for a mascot. That’s not to say that we will definitely have a mascot for our inaugural season but we are definitely considering our alternatives. If we decide not to have one for our inaugural season, I am sure we will have one in place by the second season

--Marissa Blackman

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